LB Brandon Spikes raises level of play

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When it comes to top run-stuffing defenders on the New England Patriots, defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and linebacker Brandon Spikes are two of the best.

So it was probably no coincidence last week that in the Patriots' first game without the injured Wilfork, playing time for Spikes ... well ... spiked.

After playing just six snaps the week before against the Atlanta Falcons, Spikes was on for a season-high 57 against the Cincinnati Bengals in last Sunday's 13-6 loss. His hard-charging downhill play against the run -- coupled with a first-half interception -- was one of the bright spots for the team.

"To lose Vince is a big loss. Me personally, I feel like the next guy has to come in and step up [and] I feel like I have to raise my level of play with him being gone," Spikes said Friday in a rare interview with reporters. "When my number is called, just come in and get the job done."

Spikes, who often says that he plays mostly for the respect of his peers and to be accountable to his teammates, added that he takes an approach that there can always be improvement. He also admitted that having his playing time fluctuate as it has in recent weeks can be a challenge.

"I always want to be on the field, to help the team out, to be out there running around with the guys. We put so much in throughout the week and you get one opportunity come out on Sunday to get it done," he said. "Sometimes it is a little frustrating but like I said, whenever my number is called I just have to go in and play at a high level and get the job done. ... I pride myself on being a difference-maker when I'm on the field."